June 17 (UPI) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to change a legal rule that allows both state and federal prosecutors to try someone for the same crime.
The Supreme Court voted 7-2 to say charging someone on both levels for the same crime doesn’t violate constitutional protections against “double jeopardy.”
The case involved Terance Gamble, an Alabama man who was unable to possess a firearm because he was a felon and who was charged by both state and federal prosecutors. He argued both prosecutions violated the “double jeopardy” rule.
The court, however, said established law says state and federal governments are “separate sovereigns” and can each prosecute for the same offense.
Justice Samuel Alito delivered the majority opinion.
“We have long held that a crime under one sovereign’s laws is not ‘the same offence’ as a crime under the laws of another sovereign,” Alito said. “Attacking this second prosecution of double jeopardy grounds, Gamble asks us to overrule the dual-sovereignty doctrine … but the historical evidence assembled by Gamble is feeble; pointing the other way are … 170 years of precedent.”
“Thus, where there are two sovereigns, there are two laws and two ‘offences.'”
The decision may impact former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has been convicted on both state and federal levels. A presidential pardon would only absolve him of the federal offense.
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Neil Gorsuch voted against the majority.